A grant from the Kemper Foundation is helping Concordia interfaith scholars and Dr. Jacqueline Bussie to study religious diversity in a business setting.
When Dr. Jacqueline Bussie, director of the Forum on Faith and Life at Concordia, talks about religious diversity in Fargo-Moorhead, she calls it a rich tapestry and hopes businesses will use to their benefit. But are they?
“There are some that are harnessing all the richness that religious diversity can bring,” Bussie says.
But much of her information about religious diversity in the workplace and what businesses need to thrive in this area has been gleaned from informal conversations. To learn more, Bussie and three interfaith scholars – Medora Frei ’17, Robyn Adams ’16 and Rachel Crippen ’17 – are getting more focused data through a research project.
The team received a grant from the James S. Kemper Foundation in collaboration with Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) for this academic year. The Kemper Foundation assists students at liberal arts colleges to better grasp the process of putting their education to work in professional careers in organizational management and leadership. The grant is meant to support research that explores religious diversity dynamics in local professional environments – for this team, that’s Fargo-Moorhead businesses.
“We want to be able to learn about religious pluralism,” Adams says.
The interfaith scholars interviewed and surveyed area employers and employees in health care, manufacturing, and service and hospitality industries to determine what concrete skills, knowledge and competencies graduates need to flourish in a pluralistic workplace and better meet the needs of a religiously diverse clientele. In some places, the researchers found businesses were using religious diversity to improve their work environment while other companies were looking for guidance.
“Some were saying they need resources for this and asking how we can help. Religious diversity training is not a form of training (businesses) are used to doing,” Bussie says.
The team viewed the process as a great community outreach experience and believe the real-world competencies revealed through the research will help shape the new interfaith studies minor curriculum. The students and Bussie will also write a joint paper on their research findings.
“It’s these kinds of conversations,” Adams says, “that prove Concordia isn’t just a little, isolated part of the community and that we truly benefit each other.”